Universal Design for Hearing: Considerations for Examining Hearing Demands and Developing Hearing Friendly WorkplacesBy Jennings, Mary Beth; Audiology Online,
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Article describes the development of a set of guidelines for the development of accessible working environments for individuals with hearing loss. Differences between Barrier Free and Universal Designs are outlined, with Barrier Free Design dealing with accessibility on an individual basis and Universal Design focused on the design of environments to be usable by all people without the need for adaptations. Using an occupational perspective to promote Universal Design concepts for hearing, five Universal Design for Hearing guidelines were established: (1) optimizing the hearing environment for all, exemplified by designs for optimal reverberation times and characteristics to minimize background noise levels and maximize intelligibility; (2) optimizing interactions between persons and objects to promote better hearing, for example by considering the positioning and maintenance of objects generating unwanted noise as well as the relative distance between the person and desired sound sources; (3) considering the need of people to have multiple choices of interaction with one another in places such as a meeting room, where interactions may include one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-one communications; (4) considering the need for different activities to be performed in and across environments; and (5) enabling use of the environment without extra steps for hearing access; and enabling safe, private, and secure use of the environment, exemplified by the installation of an FM listening system, the use of auditory emergency signals along with visual indicators, and providing a printed copy to supplement a verbal presentation. Future directions for further development of the guidelines are discussed.
Published by: Audiology Online, Inc. (Website:http://www.audiologyonline.com)
Link to text: http://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/article_detail.asp?article_id=2331